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America Needs to Wake Up!

by Phil Ouimette (Capt USN)

America needs to wake up! That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 – when more than 3,000 Americans were killed – and maybe it was, but I think it should have been "Get out of bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a presidency. The attack on this sovereign U.S. embassy set the stage for events to follow for the next 25 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Vietnam experience and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then-President Carter had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism.

America's military had been decimated and down sized ("right sized") since the end of the Vietnam War. A poorly trained, poorly equipped, and poorly organized military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against U.S. soil continued.

In April of 1983, a large vehicle packed with high explosives was driven into the U.S. embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it kills 63 people. The alarm went off again and America hit the snooze button once more.

Then just six short months later in 1983, a large truck heavily laden with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut, and 241 U.S. servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the snooze button once more.

Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives is driven into the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, and America continues her slumber.

The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven into the gate of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, and America slept.

Soon the terrorism spread to Europe. In April 1985, a bomb explodes in a restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers in Madrid.

Then in August 1985, a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate of the U.S. Air Force base at Rhein-Main – 22 are killed, and the snooze alarm is buzzing louder and louder as U.S. interests are continually attacked.

Fifty-nine days later, in 1985, a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, is hijacked. We watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the passenger list and executed.

The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986, that killed four, and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259.

Clinton treated these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact, we are still trying to bring these people to trial. These are acts of war.

The wake up alarm is getting louder and louder.

The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January 1993, two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The following month, February 1993, a group of terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still this is a crime and not an act of war? The snooze alarm is depressed again.

Then in November 1995, a car bomb explodes at a U.S. military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women.

A few months later, in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only thirty-five yards from the U.S. military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar Towers, a U.S. Air Force barracks, killing nineteen and injuring over 500. The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America does not respond decisively.

They move to coordinate simultaneous attacks on two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision. They kill 224. America responds with cruise missile attacks on suspected targets, and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded, killing seventeen U.S. Navy sailors. Attacking a U.S. war ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime, and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans think this was the first attack against U.S. soil or in America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant attack since 1979, and we have chosen to hit the snooze alarm, to roll over, and go back to sleep.

In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from every high official in government over what they knew and what they didn't know. But if you've read the papers and paid a little attention, I think you can see exactly what they knew. You don't have to be in the FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council to see the pattern that has been developing since 1979.

The president is right-on when he says "we are engaged in a war". I think we have been in a war for the past 25 years and it will continue until we, as a people, decide enough is enough. America needs to "get out of bed" and act decisively now. America has been changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to keep hitting the snooze button again and again, rolling over and going back to sleep.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said "... it seems all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant." This is the message we need to disseminate to terrorists around the world.

Support our troops and support President Bush for having the courage, politically or militarily, to address what so many who preceded him didn't have the backbone to do, both Democrat and Republican. This is not a political thing to be hashed over in an election year – this is an AMERICAN thing. This is about our freedom and the freedom of our children in years to come.

If you believe in this effort, please share this with your friends, especially with young people, and all those who dozed off in history class. This wake up alarm is for those who seem so quick to protest such a necessary military action, and just want to hit the snooze button, so they can go back to sleep.